Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Just the Way They Are

What is the difference between an enlightened person and an unenlightened person? 

The unenlightened person sees a difference.

I read this joke recently in Miracles Magazine. I wanted to find the source for it, so I Googled the question. And what do you know? I found LOTS of answers seriously offering a variety of litmus tests to distinguish enlightened people from unenlightened people. Wow, I thought. The joke is the truest answer of them all. All I could do was shake my head.

A few years ago, I went to a presentation for a popular method of meditation. I already had a meditation practice, but a friend had gone and recommended it, so I was curious. The presenter was a slick salesperson, and peppered the promotional speech with possibilities of enlightenment. Just sign up, give them a lot of money, practice your mantra, and lo and behold, “enlightenment just might happen.” 

As people rushed to sign up, I asked what I thought was an obvious question to someone who had practiced this method for many years. “So are you enlightened?” 

He paused, raised an eyebrow, and replied, “Well, isn’t it obvious?” 

“Yes, I suppose it is.” I thanked him for his time and left.

At a time when the divisions between us seem wider than ever, I have struggled to find our commonality. Where is that universal spark of divinity that shines in all our souls? I confess I find it more easily in some than in others, and yes, most often in people who think like I do. The Bible tells us to “judge not,” and A Course in Miracles teaches that all judgment comes from a fear-generating, mistaken belief in separation. 

I believe that, and yet I found my patience growing thin, and words – judging words, criticizing words, words of frustration, exasperation, despair – started popping up in my thoughts. So I did what I have learned to do when I am losing my way. I sat on my meditation cushion and asked for help. And waited.

The answer came to me phrased this way:  Everyone is just the way they are

Hmm, okay. Obvious. Not helpful. Or is it? 

I kept repeating the sentence. And like a mantra that promises enlightenment (ha!), it opened me up inside. A deep welling up of compassion flooded my spirit, compassion not just for some of us, but for all of us. Everyone. Even me. 

I understood. I don’t have to agree with everyone, or like everyone. I don’t have to stop advocating for justice. I don’t have to stop having uncomfortable conversations. I don’t have to accept violence. I don’t have to be silent in the face of hate or ignorance. I don’t have to stop my own process of self reflection and accountability. 

I just need to recognize that the spark of universal energy that shines in me does indeed shine in all of us. Just the way we are. If I lose that deep connection with all beings, then all my other efforts operate only on the surface, in the realm of duality. Healing is never ever achieved by separation. 

A blogging friend once posed the question: Are we our brother’s keeper? Yes, I replied, because we are our brother. All of us. Just the way we are.

They want us to be afraid.
They want us to be afraid of leaving our homes.
They want us to barricade our doors
and hide our children.
Their aim is to make us fear life itself!
They want us to hate.
They want us to hate ‘the other’.
They want us to practice aggression
and perfect antagonism.
Their aim is to divide us all!
They want us to be inhuman.
They want us to throw out our kindness.
They want us to bury our love
and burn our hope.
Their aim is to take all our light!
They think their bricked walls
will separate us.
They think their damned bombs
will defeat us.
They are so ignorant they don’t understand
that my soul and your soul are old friends.
They are so ignorant they don’t understand
that when they cut you I bleed.
They are so ignorant they don’t understand
that we will never be afraid,
we will never hate
and we will never be silent
for life is ours! 
 ~Kamand Kojouri

6 thoughts on “Just the Way They Are”

  1. "The unenlightened person sees a difference."
    What you've expounded on here, Galen, is solid truth about the human condition. As a Christian, I believe that we are all God's children, and should be treated such, even when we disagree. Holding on to that belief really helps me to pray for others, even when they seem to be the enemy of all that is good and right. Is it easy? No! But it is what I am called to do.
    Blessings, my friend!

  2. I enjoyed reading this one as I do all your posts. You always have thoughts to think about. I believe that we are all brothers and sisters of a loving Heavenly Father. We all have the light of Christ when we are born into the world. This is what helps us to make choices of right or wrong, good vs. evil. We are to love one another where we are at. We may not like the choices that people make but we can love them.
    Loved this one! Hugs~

  3. Treated as children of God even when we disagree. Love even your enemies, Jesus teaches. Not easy, as you say, but what we are all called to do. And really the only way to heal hatred and division. Thanks for your comment, Martha.

  4. When we look at tree blossoms they are just the way they are. We would never consider one better or more perfect then another.Yet we tend to judge humans as separate and distinct from others in the tree of life. When we see they are all a projection of one divine source we know the meaning of 'just the way they are'.. good post Galen

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